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Bec.

a half, the great house of Bec poured forth learned, able, and pious men, who rose to the highest places in the Church : one pope, Alexander II.; two arch- The fame of bishops of Canterbury, Anselm and Theobald ; William Bonne Ame, Archbishop of Rouen; Ivo, Bishop of Chartres; Ernost and Gundulf, Bishops of Rochester ; Fulle, Bishop of Beauvais; Richard and Geoffrey, Bishops of Evreux; Gilbert Crispin, Abbot of Westminster, the biographer of Herluin ; Paul, Abbot of St. Alban's, the nephew or, as some said, the son of Lanfranc.

Lanfranc began his work as prior about 1045, and carried it on for about twenty years, which were probably the happiest of his life. Many churches tried to get him for abbot or bishop; the Pope, Nicholas II., tried to entice him to Rome, and sent two of the emperor's chaplains and two of his own to be instructed by him, but he could not be induced to leave Bec. His work there was thoroughly congenial to him. In addition to teaching, he spent much time in correcting texts of manuscripts, revising the work of his copyists, and collecting books for the library.1

An incident which threatened to bring his happy life at Bec to an abrupt conclusion, turned out to be only the beginning of a new career of greatness. Lanfranc had his enemies. Some of the coarse and ignorant clergy in Normandy, on the estates belonging to the monastery, resented the higher standard of living and learning which he endeavoured to introduce. And his unpopularity was increased by his sarcastic wit. His adversaries succeeded his prejudicing the mind of Duke William against him. William had married Matilda, daughter of Baldwin, Count of Flanders, regardless of the fact that she was within the forbidden degrees of marriage, and equally regardless of the censures which the Church pronounced upon the union. The interdict laid upon the whole duchy by the pope was unheeded.

William was

A crisis.

1 In the library of Alençon is a manuscript copy of the Collations of Cassian, written on 142 parchment leaves, folio size, in a hand of the eleventh or early twelfth century, and at the top of the last page in the same hand as the rest of the work, are the words, Huc usque correxi." Above them in somewhat paler ink and in a different hand, is the name “ Lanfrancus." Up to the seventeenth century the book was in the library of the Benedictines of Saint Martin at Seez.

William.

informed that the Prior of Bec had publicly denounced the
marriage. The duke commanded him to quit Normandy,
and ordered the home-farm of the monastery to be destroyed
by fire.

Amidst the lamentations of the brethren Lanfranc departed
from his beloved home. He rode upon a lame horse, the

only one that the monastery could furnish, accomMeeting of Lanfranc and panied by a single attendant. On his way, passing

near the court of William, he met the duke himself, who asked him whither he was going. “I am going out of the province, in accordance with your order," replied Lanfranc, in a cheerful tone, “and if you will kindly give me a better horse, I will obey your command more speedily.” The bold, good-humoured answer made a favourable impression on the duke. They entered into friendly conversation, and the result was a complete reconciliation on the basis of a mutual agreeInent. Lanfranc undertook to plead the cause of William at the Papal Court, and William promised on his side to restore the prior to his office, and to make good the damaged property of the house. William and Lanfranc were astute men, and no doubt in the interview each took the measure of the other's character. Lanfranc could see in the duke a man of inflexible will, whom it would be unwise to provoke and useless to resist. William could discern in the subtle and learned Italian a valuable counsellor in the administration of affairs, civil as well as ecclesiastical.

The return of Lanfranc to Bec was welcomed with the ringing of bells and singing of “Te Deum." Soon afterwards

he took his journey to Rome, and fulfilled his reinstated. promise by pleading the cause of the duke. The

pope, Leo IX., had to choose between a dangerous adversary or a powerful ally. And he knew from his experience of the Normans in Apulia and Sicily, Robert Wiscard, and Richard his brother-in-law, what manner of men Normans

He knew that beneath a semblance o respect for his office and regard for religious observances, ther was concealed a resolute spirit which would not brook bein thwarted or controlled, and that his wisest course was to mak the best terms he could with them. Lanfranc could represer to the pope that Duke William was a man cast in the sam

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II

ABBOT OF ST. STEPHEN'S

27

Lanfranc at

Rome.

mould as the sons of Tancred of Hauteville, and that he was the most powerful prince in the north of Europe, ruling a compact and well-ordered territory. He may, perhaps, even have hinted at his possible claim some day to the throne of England. At any rate, the pope learned that he would be ill advised to quarrel with such a potentate. On the other hand, it would accord well with the dignity and pretensions of the Roman see to grant a dispensation in the case of so mighty a personage, only prescribing the terms on which it should be given. The papal sanction, therefore, was given to the union of William and Matilda, on condition that they founded two monasteries in Normandy.

Such was the issue of Lanfranc's mission. He earned the gratitude alike of William and of the pope. He became from that moment the intimate friend and counsellor of the duke, who henceforth did nothing of importance without consulting him.

The condition on which the pope gave his sanction to William's marriage was faithfully fulfilled. Two convents were founded at Caen, one by Matilda, for women; the other by William, for men, which was dedicated Stephen's, to the first martyr, St. Stephen. In June 1066, the Prior of Bec became the first abbot of St. Stephen's at Caen. He took with him a novice named Raoul, who became in time the first abbot of “St. Martin's, on the place of battle," the great house which William founded to commemorate his victory over Harold. At Bec, Lanfranc was succeeded in the office of prior by Anselm, and the school of learning which he had created there was carried on by one greater than himself.

The removal of English prelates and the substitution of Normans, begun by William, and carried still systematically after Lanfranc became archbishop, condition of must not be attributed entirely to political motives. English

clergy. There can be no doubt that the English clergy and monks were, at this epoch, as a body, far behind those of Normandy and the continent generally in learning and cultivation if not in morals. At the close of the tenth century there may have been little difference between the standards attained in the two countries, but in the eleventh century, and especially

Abbot of St.

Caen.

on

more

during the forty years that preceded the Conquest, while Normandy had advanced under the influence of the school of Bec and the strong rule of the dukes, England had remained stationary, or rather had gone back. The revival of learning and religion which originated with Dunstan and his disciples in the tenth century, had received a severe shock during the Danish invasion in the miserable reign of Æthelred the Unready. Brighter days, indeed, had returned after the Danish conquest, under the wise and just rule of Cnut, but amidst the distractions of Eadward the Confessor's feeble reign there had been another relapse. All contemporary writers represent the condition of the English Church at the time of the Norman conquest as one of degradation. The clergy were illiterate and ignorant, the discipline of the monastic houses was extremely lax; the monks differed little from laymen in their dress, and were addicted to sport and all manner of secular pursuits. Simony was prevalent. Synods, frequently held in Normandy, were very rare in England. The council held at Rome in 1050 by Leo IX. was the last continental council that had been attended by any representative from England.

The aim of William was to bring the English Church up to the same level as that of the Church in his own duchy.

“He wished,” says Eadmer, “to maintain in England ecclesiastical the same usages and laws that he and his forefathers policy.

had been accustomed to observe in Normandy." In ecclesiastical appointments he pursued the same methods in both countries. When an abbot died, it was his custom to send prudent agents to the bereaved house to make a careful inventory of the goods, less they should be wasted by unscrupulous guardians. Then he assembled bishops, abbots, and other wise counsellors, and with their aid he diligently sought out the ablest man that could be found to rule the house alike in things secular and sacred. He abhorred simony, and in appointing bishops and abbots, the qualifications to which he paid most regard were not wealth or power, but wisdom and holiness. And when he had appointed the best men that he could find to high offices in the Church, he expected from them a zealous discharge of their duty, and demanded implicit obedience to his laws.

William's

II

CANTERBURY AND YORK

29

York to be

The efforts of William to elevate the condition of the Church were ably seconded, and no doubt in great measure prompted, by Lanfranc. The king and the primate

Harmony were joint rulers of the Church. No emperor between king

and primate. and pope had ever worked together in such perfect concord; and it was a common saying that two such men as William and his archbishop were not to be found in any country. If William was supreme head, Lanfranc was determined that he himself should hold the foremost place next to the king

For this purpose it was necessary in the first place that the subordination of York to Canterbury should be clearly established. If the Church was to be reformed and brought up to the continental standard throughout subject to

Canterbury. the whole kingdom, it was essential that there should be one ecclesiastical head. But the subjection of York to Canterbury was not less important from a political point of view. It was in the north of England that William had encountered the most serious resistance. It was the most likely region to become the centre of disaffection or rebellion, and to support the claim of some rival pretender to the throne ; and if the Archbishop of York was an independent metropolitan, he might be tempted into giving some ecclesiastical sanction to an invader, or even crowning him as the sovereign of an independent kingdom. But an Archbishop of York, who had professed canonical obedience to the see of Canterbury, could not venture on such an act without involving himself in ecclesiastical as well as civil rebellion. necessary, therefore, to insist on the full submission of the new Primate of York to the new Primate of Canterbury; and it was doubtless with this design that, while the other newlyappointed bishops were consecrated by the legate Ermenfrid, Thomas, elect of York, was reserved for consecration at the hands of Lanfranc.

So when Thomas came to Canterbury, and all things were ready for the ceremony of consecration in the Cathedral, Lanfranc demanded a profession of obedience. Thomas refused to make it, not however, it was York refuses said, from arrogance, but from ignorance of the customs of the realm, and from being misled by the language

It was

Thomas of

obedience.

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